Balanced Energy for Texas

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City Pledges for ‘100% Renewable Energy’ Are 99% Misleading

Dozens of cities have made a misleading pledge: that they will move to 100% renewable energy so as to power residents’ lives without emitting a single puff of carbon. At a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in late June, leaders unanimously adopted a resolution setting a “community-wide target” of 100% clean power by 2035. Mayors from Portland, Ore., to Los Angeles to Miami Beach have signed on to these goals. States are getting in the game, too. Two years ago Hawaii pledged that its electricity would be entirely renewable by 2045. The California Senate recently passed a bill setting the same goal, while moving up the state’s timeline to get half its electricity from renewables from 2030 to 2025. Let’s not get carried away. Although activists herald these pledges as major environmental accomplishments, they’re more of a marketing gimmick. Use my home state of Texas as an example. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas oversees 90% of the state’s electricity generation and distribution. Texas generates more wind and solar power than any other state. Yet more than 71% of the council’s total electricity still comes from coal and natural gas. The trick is that there’s no method to designate electrons on the grid as originating from one source or another. Power generated by fossil fuels and wind turbines travels together over poles and underground wires before reaching cities, homes and businesses. No customer can use power from wind and solar farms exclusively. So how do cities make this 100% renewable claim while still receiving regular electricity from the grid? They pay to generate extra renewable energy that they then sell on the market. If they underwrite enough, they can claim to have offset whatever carbon-generated electricity they use. The proceeds from the sale go back to the city and are put toward its electric bill.

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Coal plant south of San Antonio off chopping block – for now

From the air, the San Miguel coal mining operation 49 miles south of San Antonio looks like a scene from the industrial revolution. A massive dragline excavator with a bucket big enough to hold two Ford F-250s pickup trucks dwarfs several 100-ton dump trucks piled high with lignite. As the excavators scrape through seven stories of South Texas dirt, the machine unearths a dark vein of coal that feeds the nearby San Miguel power plant, the source of 20 percent of the electricity for the South Texas Electric Cooperative, which serves 241,000 customers in 42 counties. Lignite, often called brown coal, is the lowest grade of coal and produces less energy and more carbon pollution than harder, black coal.

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Let’s take the lead in clean coal

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord has drawn criticism, but if there’s a silver lining, it may be that his renewed focus on coal could spur technological advances leading to both a cleaner environment and safer power generation for millions of people around the world. Roughly 3 billion people in the developing world have virtually no access to energy. And while countries like India and China are rapidly industrializing their power sectors, much of the world remains largely in the dark. In fact, the burning of dung still serves as the chief source of energy for cooking and heating in many places. The adverse impacts of such a fuel source — including indoor air pollution and black carbon — threaten both lives and environmental safety. So it’s imperative to find a safer means to deliver reliable energy to the people who need it most. In contrast to the developing world, America enjoys world-leading access to power generation for schools, hospitals, public transportation, water treatment, sewage facilities and food storage. A third of this power comes from coal-fired plants that run 24/​7.

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U.S. Department of Energy to Invest $12 Million to Advance Carbon Storage

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE) today announced the availability of $12 million to advance new geological carbon storage projects that enable safe, cost-effective, and permanent geologic storage of carbon dioxide (CO2). Two funding opportunity announcements (FOA), under FE’s Carbon Storage Program, will advance the development and validation of storage technologies associated with enhanced oil recovery operations or injection into a saline reservoir.

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Rick Perry: Trump will show us way to clean energy, more jobs FILED UNDERCOMMENTARY AT JUN 6

On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced that the United States will no longer be party to the Paris Accord, an agreement entered into by the Obama administration. During his address in the Rose Garden, the president laid out a convincing case detailing how this rather one-sided agreement is not in the best long-term economic interest of the United States. The president’s decision will prove to be the right course of action, and one I fully support as the U.S. secretary of energy. The president and I agree on a fundamental tenet: Our work and deeds are more important than unenforceable words in a nonbinding agreement. Rather than preaching about clean energy, this administration will act on it. We are confident we can unleash our domestic energy sector, drive economic and job growth, and protect the environment at the same time. We know this not because of theory, but because of cold, hard facts. The data is evident in what I witnessed while serving as the governor of Texas.

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Americans win when energy competes

Energy is a hot topic these days, but lost in the news cycle is the truth behind domestic energy production. America has the greatest endowment of resources on the planet. But these domestic resources are not just about the coal in the mountains of West Virginia, the oil in West Texas, the wind in Wyoming, or the sun in Arizona. The most precious and powerful of our domestic resources are the people working, researching, building and leading companies in the most competitive energy industry in the world. There were over 1.9 million workers directly employed in electric power generation and fuels technologies last year, according to the Department of Energy. They are deployed almost evenly between traditional oil and gas — with 1.1 million employees — and low-carbon power generation such as renewables, nuclear and natural gas, which claimed nearly 800,000 employees.

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In Texas oil patch, Trump finds like minds on Paris

Those working in the oil and gas fields around Texas have watched warily as emissions regulations grew in recent years, with each new rule aimed at reducing the risk of climate change by cutting demand for the very product on which their livelihoods depended. Many in the industry questioned the scientific models showing the earth would warm dangerously over the next decade or so and cursed the politicians who imposed greenhouse gas regulations on them. But they were cheering President Donald Trump on Thursday after he announced he would withdraw the United States from the international pact on climate change, known as the Paris agreement. They, along with the lawmakers who represent them in Washington, hailed the decision as a victory for their way of life.

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AG Paxton Calls on EPA to Suspend and Review Unlawful Regulations Harmful to Texans

Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging it to suspend, review and reconsider Obama-era EPA regulations that Texas challenged in 12 lawsuits that are still pending against the federal agency. The letter was sent Monday in response to a request for comments from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The letter, which includes 110 pages of supporting documents, states that Texas took legal action against EPA rules and regulations that are unlawful, arbitrary and capricious, unnecessary or ineffective, and impose costs exceeding benefits. One example cited in the letter is the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan, which would raise electricity costs while weakening the nation’s power grid. Attorney General Paxton co-led a 24-state lawsuit to stop the rule, which is now under review by the EPA. The letter also mentions the attorney general’s lawsuit against an EPA rule on carbon and methane that would harm oil and gas production in Texas and across the nation.

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New era beckons as Texas regulator exits

Donna Nelson wraps up her time as a Texas utility regulator today, ending a tenure that spans more than eight years and signaling a new era for the state’s power sector. The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) has just three members, and they’re all appointed by the governor. Ken Anderson’s current term runs through the end of August, raising the possibility of another departure. Brandy Marty Marquez is slated to be at the commission through August 2019. In short, companies, environmental groups and customers may be dealing with a PUC that has two new commissioners in the not-too-distant future. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) could echo choices made by former Gov. Rick Perry (R) and appoint someone from his own staff. Nelson was appointed to the commission in 2008 and became chairwoman in 2011.

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The Reason for Coal Plant Retirements

A recent report—“Can Coal Make a Comeback?”[i]—asserts that environmental regulations are a secondary influence in decisions to retire coal-fired electric generating units. We disagree with this assertion. Specifically, the authors of the report “believe” that low natural gas and renewable costs are more important in retirement decisions than environmental regulations.[ii] However, the report provides no analysis to support this belief. On the other hand, ACCCE has closely tracked the reasons for coal plant retirements over the past five years. While not all retirements have been attributed to environmental regulations, it’s clear from official company statements — including, for example, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission[iii] and state public utility commissions — that environmental regulations have played a significant role in the vast majority of those retirements. In fact, three-fourths of all coal retirements, so far, have been attributed to EPA regulations.[iv] The map below shows 37 states with a total of 451 coal unit retirements (representing more than 75,000 MW of generating capacity) that have been attributed to EPA regulations.

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